Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


MATISSE Report Summary

Project ID: 621195
Funded under: FP7-JTI
Country: France

Periodic Report Summary 1 - MATISSE (MAnufacTuring Improved Stack with textured Surface Electrodes for Stationary and CHP applications)

Project Context and Objectives:
MATISSE (Manufacturing improved stack with textured surface electrodes for stationary and CHP applications) is a 36-month project targeting to the delivery of PEMFC advanced cells and stacks for stationary applications

MATISSE is addressing the main objectives needed for market deployment which are the increase of performance (power density and efficiency) and the improvement of robustness and lifetime, associated with the reduction of the systems cost. The project intends to reach these objectives focusing on fuel cell core improvements with the development of advanced cell components and automated processes for Membrane Electrodes Assembly (MEA) and stack manufacturing.
The project methodology is based on the assessment of stacks with improved MEAs, including new compositions in their electrodes or modified processes developed during the project.
Three existing stack designs and fuel cell technologies are considered related to systems operating under three different conditions mainly differentiated by the gases used: H2/O2 (for Areva SE smart grid application), H2/Air (for Nedstack back-up or CHP application in large power plant); and Reformate H2/Air (for inhouse micro-CHP application).
Developments are based on application specifications as defined by the industry partners and will be validated on industrial stack and system hardware. End-users expectations are considered thanks to stack manufacturers’ information.
The project considers process issues for manufacturability for all the components developed. Three keys components fabrication will be considered in automated process: electrode using screen printing line, automated MEA and stack assembly. Final optimized components should allow the industry partners involved to go beyond their state of art for their application.
Improvements over the state of the art of the industry partners involved are expected thanks to the following developments:
- Modified solutions of gasket and sub-gasket (anti-wicking ) in order to improve cell robustness
- Optimized catalyst formulation and protection towards contamination
- Automated processes and optimized catalyst loading: limitation of defects, of poor operating zones
- Textured (or X-Y gradient) electrode design: better catalytic activity and better water management as well as limitation of local activity or local degradations due to heterogeneous operation. Electrodes, with a catalyst layer non-homogeneous along the surface, will be specifically designed based on the reference results obtained at the beginning on reference homogeneous components.
Assessment of these developments are done by different characterizations of cells and stacks:
- Components’ qualification is conducted in short stacks with representative conditions and load profiles, ageing conditions or specific AST.
- Segmented cells are used to enable Current Density Distribution Mapping (CDDM) for the proposal of non-homogeneous electrodes composition allowing better performance, better stability and lower performance local degradation.
- Post-ageing analyses are performed to identify local degradation mechanisms and propose improvements.
Costs reduction will be addressed through the optimization of MEA architecture, electrodes design and material loadings, and automation of processes.
In addition, the impact on overall systems cost of the improvements conducted on cells and stacks design and manufacturing is considered thanks to a cost assessment analysis that will be conducted and compared between reference cases (at beginning of the project) and after optimization (at the end of the project). These information will be used to propose recommendations for the systems improvement

Project Results:
To reach objectives, MATISSE is structured by three work programs dedicated to join technology assessment, development & maturation:
- Test and understanding: tools & methods for electrical efficiency, robustness and lifetime assessment.
- Innovation: materials and components optimization for improved electrical efficiency, robustness and lifetime.
- Manufacturing: automated processes for MEA & stack assembly compatible with high volume/low cost production.

Methodology and tools have been developed and set by all partners, with mainly: the adaptation and use of manufacturing processes for electrodes and MEA assembling at CEA; specification and implementation of segmented cells (S++ devices for Areva SE and Nedstack or specific home-developed device for inhouse) for short stack testing by the three industry partners; identification and selection of post-ageing analyses to be conducted mainly by ZSW (physical characterizations of components properties and microstructure). Protocols, in-situ analysing methods, specific operating conditions, load current profiles for performance and ageing tests have also been defined.
Concerning the core activities and objectives, MEA components have been defined and manufactured for the 3 designs considered. The MEAs provided have all been tested to assess their performance at the specific conditions previously defined for each application. Particular development work had to be done for the adaptation of the ink and active layers deposition processes (screen-printing) to the different compositions needed for the three types of anodes and cathodes to be provided. Different materials have been tried before selection for anodes and cathodes catalysts, ionomer, gas diffusion layers and membranes.
Reference MEAs have been made for each application: compositions provided for H2/Air and for Reformate/Air have been accepted as Matisse reference MEAs for Nedstack and inhouse stacks. Several MEAs compositions have been provided for H2/O2 case but performance have to be improved to get acceptable Matisse reference for Areva SE stack.
Current density distribution maps associated with temperature distribution Maps have been obtained and analysed to better understand the link between local conditions (gases inlets and outlets, cool and warm or wet and dry zones) and local electrochemical activity.

Ageing tests and post-ageing characterizations have also been performed for the cases H2/Air and Reformate H2/Air MEAs with nominal or accelerated conditions. All these data have been used to define first non-homogeneous electrodes, with different cathodes’ catalyst layers compositions near air inlet and outlet. Test of these gradient electrodes in performance and following ageing protocols have started.
New gaskets, sub gasket, anti-wicking solutions have been identified, tested and proposed, with the aim to improve robustness for the different designs. Some solutions have been adopted and will be used with the new developed electrodes compositions. In some cases the needed adaptation of the stack design cannot allow the implementation of the new architectures in the short term.
Cost assessment has been done for the three stack designs and fuel cell technologies using the available reference data for each case.

Potential Impact:
The final outcomes will be cell design and improved components adapted to the existing design of fuel cell stacks and systems of the 3 industry partners (Areva SE, inhouse and Nedstack) applications. Design and components will be validated at the stack level under representative conditions, which are relevant to field of operations, with adapted gas compositions, temperature, pressures, flows and load profiles.
The exploitation plan is based on the structure and expected outcomes of the project: thanks to the developments and studies conducted here, CEA and ZSW will improve their research infrastructure and skills enabling further expertise and contribution to industry developments in the field.
CEA who is performing the manufacturing developments in the project will consider possible technological transfer of the processes developed. Specific know-how will be developed related to processes, methods and components’ specific compositions or designs; patenting of this know-how will be considered.
NedStack expects from the project improved MEAs employing the gradient electrodes, delivering high performance and long life, when implemented in fuel cell stacks for stationary and other relevant markets requiring long life MEAs.
Areva SE expects from the project optimized MEAs which can improve performance, durability and reduce cost. In addition, in perspective of industrialisation, Areva SE could use some automated line for stack assembly in order to improve reproducibility and robustness of stacks, for energy storage system coupled with renewable energy and back-up power.
Inhouse will carry out the development of the stack design and construction to improve the performance and the lifetime of the required stacks for a high efficient modular CHP system. Their intention would be to have the new MEA with inhomogeneous electrode commercialised (by one of the partner or transferred to a manufacturer) in order to permit their use in the systems to be put on the market.
Times to market are estimated in the range of 2 to 5 years depending on the process considered.

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Sylvie ESCRIBANO, (Contract manager)
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